KENYA – The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Kenya through the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has resolved to extend the deadline for plastic primary industrial packaging for the bakery sector.

According to a statement issued by NEMA, the authority extended the use of the banned plastic packaging bags for the bakery sector by a period of nine months, effective June 12, 2019.

In August 2017, the ministry of environment banned the manufacture, importation, distribution and use of single use plastic bags in the country for both commercial and household packaging.

However, players in the bakery sector through the technical committee of bakers have since then being engaging the Authority as they continue to explore alternative packaging.

Bakers cited that they have been experiencing challenges in obtaining suitable alternatives for packaging of their products.

NEMA noted that the extension applies for the “use of plastic bags for primary industrial packaging of soft breads, scones, mandazis, doughnuts and buns.”

“All bakers involved in the manufacture of hard crust breads (Baguetts, French country breads, dejeunette breads etc.) shall be required to transit to paper packaging,” the Authority explained.

According to NEMA, bakers will be allowed to use the plastic packaging for a period of nine months staggered in three months phases.

NEMA said that an effective take back mechanism for the plastic bags will be implemented with periodic monitoring every three months and monitoring reports submitted to the Authority.

However the Authority explained that the bakers, “shall be required to subscribe to an Extended Producer Organization (EPO) with an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework that will be implemented for the effective management of plastic waste resulting from their products packaging.”

As part of the agreement reached between NEMA and the Bakers, the bakers will report on the progress of the transition to a suitable biodegradable alternative based on development of a standard for the transition.

NEMA will also monitor the progress of the intervention by reviewing the percentage of plastic packaging waste packaging recovered and recycled from the users and the environment during each of the three phases of extension.

As the implementation of the ban on the single use plastic packaging continues to gain ground in the country, the packaging have been cited to enter the country through the porous Kenya-Uganda border.

Uganda counts among the few countries in the East Africa bloc to yet impose the ban on use of single use plastic packaging after Tanzania recently joined Kenya and Rwanda in the ban.